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Looking Ahead to 2003

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Regardless of our success or failure in the Playoffs, this season has to be looked upon as a success. And since the NFL draft is over and done with I needed my mock draft and rampant speculation fix I have started looking at the Pistons Off-season and NBA 2002 Draft Class.


Jerry Stackhouse Ben Wallace might be the face of the Pistons, but Jerry Stackhouse is the heart and soul. He might not put up the big scoring numbers, and he isn't the most pure of shooters, but this guy is our franchise.

Ben Wallace Big Ben really came into his own this season, capped it off being named Defensive Palyer of the Year. The scary part is that hthis guy is still learning and improving and the sky is the limit. His offense is coming around, but he still needs a lot of work, and to truely be effective he needs to hit at least 60% of his free throws.

Cliff Robinson This guy is very possibly our most valuable player this season. He brought veteran leadership and a winning aura that was contageous. He is very versatile, and presents the potential for offensive and defensive mismatches and is very hard to coach against. A very smart player. A problem could arrise during the summer as Cliff will want to talk contract extension, and Joe Dumars has said all along that he plans to let Robinson playout his contract. As much as I like Robinson, I'd be against signing him to a longer deal as he isn't getting any younger and the 2003 free-agent class is going to be the strongest ever.

Chucky Atkins Really stepped up his game this season, after his early season sulking. Tenacious defender, but probably still too small to start in the new NBA. He would be a solid addition to the ranks of the Alternatorz, as he is often a difference maker once he starts raining threes.

Corliss Williamson One of Rick Carlisle's few personel mistakes this season was excluding Big Nasty from the rotation. The sixth man of the year seemingly has finally found his niche in the NBA.

Zeljko Rebraca One of Joe Dumars least hearlded trades this past off-season when he secured the rights to Rebraca from the Toronto Raptors for a future 2nd round Draft Pick. Rebraca went through growing pains this season, but starting getting comfortable as the season came to an end. Showed flashes of brilliance, and if he is willing to put in the work in this off season could be a starter for us for the next 5 yrs. He tends to disappear in games when facing a bigger more physical center, and could probably put on 15 more pounds to be more effective.

Jon Barry Let me get this straight, we get Jon Barry for Mateen Cleaves AND we get a future first rounder as well?? Jon Barry is The Detroit Pistons v2002 microwave, and he alone made being a bench player cool. Eventhough I think he could have come up with something better than "The Alternatorz" his worthi to the team cannot be denied. Starting exposes the holes in his game - especially on the defensive end - but off the bench he is instant energy, both on the court and in the crowd as his no-look passes and trash talk get the crowd on its feet.

Michael Curry Everybody questions this guys worth except his coaches and teammates. His suffocating defense sets the tempo for the rest of the game. The consumate team player, I see maybe playing 1 more season before joining the coaching staff. His minutes will hopefully be cut next season, but the battle he gives Rodney White every practise will only make us a better team.

Rodney White He spent most of the season at the end of the bench, and I'd be surprised if he amounted enough minutes to constitute a full game, but his talent is undeniable and he is still a top prospect. I'll admit that he didn't show me much of anything in the times he did get into the games, but he has yet to get comfortable playing in front of the big crowds, and that only comes with constant and consistant playing time. He'll split most of the SF time with Williamson next season, and I'd love to see him in the second "Alternatorz" unit with Jon Barry and Chucky Atkins.

On the Bubble:

Ratko Varda Varda was the Pistons project this past season, and only they know if he shows any promise and has a future with the Pistons. He is still too raw to even expect any playing time next season, but a 21 yr old seven footer is hard to give up on. I would expect him to be back, but I wouldn't be surprised if another NBA team offered him too much money and lured him away from the Pistons either. Centers are at a premium in the NBA, which automatically gives this project a market.

Brian Cardinal Some around here think he has the talent to start in the NBA, but obviously our coaching staff feels otherwise. The fact that he was left off the Play-off roster makes me think the writing is on the wall and Brian Cardinal will have to work for his break elsewhere.

As good as gone:

Dana Barros Dana was a solid contributor and starter at the beginning of the season, but injuries and age slowed him down to a spot at the end of the bench. He had to be talked out of retirement last season, but he will likely retire after this season.

Victor Alexander Don't know much about this guy, but at least he made the play-off roster. He willprobably be invited to camp next season, but more than likely be crowed out of a roster spot.

Damon Jones Filled a hole when Barros went down, and when Atkins was overmatched by the bigger PG's. Didn't shoot a high enough three pointer percentage to make us keep him and the rest of his game is normal at best.

Mikki Moore He's got a small forwards game trapped in his 7'1" frame. He showed promise last season, but couldn't break into the rotation this season. He is a talented enough seven footer to garner interest from other teams and will probably be traded in the off season to free up his $3M in cap space.

New additions:

Mehmet Okur The 6'11" Center was our second round draft pick last season, but chose to play the season in his native Turkey. It is now being said that if he came out in this seasons draft he would be a lottery pick, which bodes well for the Pistons, assuming they can sign him. He can play bothl forward positions, and many even believe he will be able to play center in the NBA. He has a very smooth stroke from behind the 3 point arch, and often garners comparisons to Pau Gasol. In order to lure him over to the States, we will probably have to give most of Mikki Moores money to him, but it is expected that he could step in and make an immediate impact next season.

So in looking at next years team 10(Varda included)will be returning and along with Okur will leave one roster spot available - along with 3 "injured" reserve spots. Breaking it down to positions we have eight forwards(Williamson[sF], Wallace[PF/C], Robinson[sF/PF/C], Curry[sF], Rebraca[C], White[sF], Varda[C] and Okur[sF/PF/C]) and three guards(Stackhouse[sG] Barry[sG/PG] and Atkins[PG]).

Click here for Part II

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